Monday, July 31, 2006

The Landis Doping Affair

I know that everyone wants to know what I, Todd Kuzma, think of the allegations of doping that have been made against Floyd Landis. The answer - I don't know. However, I do feel sorry for anyone who has been falsely accused. While you might be able to prove scientifically that someone was doping, you cannot prove that they were not. Once accused, there will always be suspicion. Plus, the accused always make the same arguments - their body naturally produces that substance, it was the result of some prescribed medication, there was an error in the test protocol, etc. So, when some actually is innocent, they sound like all the rest. How does the public know what to believe?

So, Floyd, if you are innocent, my thoughts are with you, bud. In any case, will you please call your mom? This has really upset her. Your parents are Mennonite, for crying out loud. They want to live a simple life yet they've been drawn into the spotlight. I know that you live the swinging lifestyle of the professional bicycle racer what with your beer and Jack Daniels, but they didn't want this. Call your mom.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Writing Ed's Oracle

I'm writing a novel. The working title is Ed's Oracle. If you've read much of this blog, you'll probably be surprised to learn that it is not about bikes or politics. It's hard to describe (unfortunately, publishers hate that) but try to imagine The DaVinci Code in Mayberry with a pinch of The X-Files thrown in for good measure.

I wrote the first draft nearly two years ago as part of NANOWRIMO, National Novel Writing Month. This is an online challenge of sorts to write 50,000 words within one month. I've done some of the rewrite, but that has stalled a bit. I'm hoping that making a public commitment to finish it will put enough pressure on me to make it happen. So, it would help if a few folks would bug me about it every now and then. I'll post updates, and maybe some excerpts, here for those who are interested in following along.

Now THAT'S What I'm Talking About!

Well done. I can only assume that Floyd Landis reads my blog and was inspired by my comments about what makes a True Champion. In fact, I'm guessing that he purposely lost 10 minutes yesterday just so he could come storming back today. Apparently, the OLN guys follow my blog as well because after the race, Bobke proclaimed Landis to be a "True Champion."

It's been an exciting Tour, and I hope that Landis wins it all. He showed True Champion form today. That was an epic attack if I've ever seen one. Bravo.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More on the True Champion

I watched today's stage. I guess that's that. Rasmussen, although he won't win this year's Tour, rode with great courage. So, did Levi Leipheimer. Instead of being content with his position and riding conservatively, he attacked. In the end, it didn't work, and he ended the stage in the same position in which he started. Still, he gave it a shot, I have to give him credit. To me, that is what the Tour is about. Lay it all out there and see what happens.

Sastre attacked as well. It might not have been as bold as what Rasmussen or Leipheimer did, but it bought him some time against the other contenders. Well done, Carlos. What will happen next? Who the hell knows?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Where Is the New Tour Champion?

I’ve been disappointed with this year’s Tour de France. At the end of the race, there will be a winner, but, so far, there’s no champion. A true champion wins with confidence and courage. There have been no epic, merciless attacks. Instead, each contender appears to be overly conservative, afraid to lose time rather than anxious to gain time.

It’s true that Lance Armstrong’s Postal and Discovery squads perfected the tactic of gradually increasing the pace in the mountains until a small, elite group remained on the final climb. Several teams appear to be employing this strategy, but they have forgotten that once Armstrong had the lead group small enough, he attacked.

Jan Ullrich, seemingly a perpetual second to Armstrong, still tried to attack his foe. He was not going to lose the race without a fight. Others, like Pantani, Virenque, and Vinokourov, appeared fearless and attacked against all odds. Often, after an attack failed, they would attack again. Then again. Then again.

The current Yellow Jersey, Floyd Landis, does not attack. When he somehow finds himself ahead of the other contenders, he nervously looks over his shoulder as if inviting them along. Boring. To be a true champion, just once Landis will have to look over his shoulder, sneer, and put the hammer down. If his attack fails, attack again. If in the end someone else was faster, then at least he gave his all.

A true champion of the Tour earns it. He throws down the gauntlet, gives his best, and lets the chips fall where they may. Playing a statistical chess match might earn the victory, but it does not make a champion.

Friday, July 07, 2006

More About False Patriots

I received several comments about my Beware the False Patriots post suggesting that it was simply a partisan attack on the current administration. That was not my intent. False Patriots abound in all three branches of government and in both major parties. In fact, it has become apparent that money is the overriding value for many Americans. The current popularity Chinese-manufactured goods is a perfect example. How many are content to live with the oppression of workers by a totalitarian government as long as it means cheap consumer goods here in the US? The True Patriot would not stand for it. The True Patriot believes that certain values are more important than money. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Beware the False Patriots

Today is the Fourth of July, a great opportunity to reflect upon what it means to be an American. Certain values, such as liberty, justice, equality, and democracy, have long defined what is unique about the American experiment. These values were outlined in the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution and then elaborated upon by many True Patriots over the years.

It is now apparent that the United States has fallen to the False Patriots. These are people who cloak them selves in the flag while peppering their oratory with the words of the True Patriots. However, their actions reveal their true selves.

The False Patriots place security above the right to legal counsel and due process. They believe that it is appropriate to detain individuals, even American citizens, indefinitely, secretly, and without access to our legal system. The False Patriots claim that is because those detained are terrorists, but they cannot make such a claim without first rejecting the belief that all are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In addition, the secrecy of their actions makes abuse possible, even likely. Political foes can be swept up just as easily as those suspected of criminal activity.

The False Patriots believe in torture. In doing so, they reject individual dignity as well as various federal and international prohibitions against inhumane treatment.

The False Patriots reject democracy and equality. They will claim the contrary, but this only holds true as long as those exercising democracy choose in accordance with their wishes. The False Patriots reject an equal voice of non-Americans in the United Nations. They reject the voice of any country that disagrees with US foreign policy and even participated in the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Haiti.

The False Patriots do not believe in the constitutional system of checks and balances. They have used the “signature statement” to effectively veto legislation over 700 times in the past six years. Unlike a veto, Congress cannot override the blocking of legislation in this manner. The False Patriots have also argued, unsuccessfully, that the United States Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over military handling of detainees.

The False Patriots believe in spying on American citizens. They have listened to telephone conversations, examined financial and communications records, and monitored purchases. Perhaps more importantly, they have circumvented the checks that have been put in place to prevent abuse of our surveillance resources.

Some have argued that there is no “foul” in this type of spying. They say that those who are doing no wrong have nothing to fear. Yet, the American concept of liberty holds that one should be free from such government scrutiny. The False Patriots have installed thousands of security and police cameras in public places across the country, but the True Patriot believes in the value of being able to walk down the street without Big Brother looking over one’s shoulder.

And that is what we have, Big Brother. Taken individually, each of the above actions is a strong statement against the values that America holds dear. Taken together, they create an Orwellian nightmare where our Constitution has been shredded and the ideals of our forefathers dashed.

It is easy to tell how one’s values are prioritized when they come into conflict. Choosing security over liberty is not inherently wrong, but it does illustrate an attempt to redefine what it means to be an American. What makes America unique is that we place values such as liberty, justice, equality, and democracy above all others.

So, let the True Patriots rise and begin the task of taking back the country. Happy Fourth of July!